Woman Becomes Nurse at Hospital That Treated Her Cancer When She Was a Baby: 'I've Had My Heart Set on It'
After being cured of cancer at a Georgia hospital when she was a baby, a young woman has returned, not as a patient – but as a nurse.
Amelia Ballard, 23, spent the first few years of her life in and out of the hospital, having been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when she was only 17 months old.
For the next few years, Ballard went through chemotherapy radiation treatments, bone marrow transplants, various scans, and the different side effects that each treatment would cause.
"They didn't know how my body would take it, but they were hoping for the best," Ballard told InsideEdition.com.
Though she was declared in remission by 4 years old, she spent the rest of her childhood frequenting the Atlanta hospital from her hometown of Aiken, South Carolina, for follow-up tests.
"I remember the fun stuff," Ballard said about the early years of her life. She said she could recall things like stickers being handed out, clowns coming by the hospital rooms, and the support of her family.
Despite what was an agonizing time for her family, Ballard said she only remembers the positive aspects of her stay at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, now known as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
"Every picture (my parents) took was on a good day," Ballard said. "They didn't want me to look back on it and have a negative attitude toward it. They kept the whole thing positive even though it wasn't a great situation."
Ballard also recalled being inspired by all the female doctors that treated her as a baby.
She joked that when a psychiatrist had asked her when she was younger, "if little boys grow up to be men, what do little girls grow up to be?"
She responded enthusiastically, "doctors!"
Thanks to the pleasant memory of the oncologists and nurses that treated her as a baby, she had always known she wanted to someday help others at that same hospital.
To fulfill her childhood dream, she enrolled in Georgia Southern University's nursing program.
Despite having connections with doctors and staff at the Children's Healthcare Atlanta, she said she "didn't want to use cancer as a crutch," and instead took the traditional path of working hard to reach her goals.
During her last semester at nursing school, Ballard said she became a patient care tech, where she would assist nurses and paramedics, even though it sometimes required her to spend nights in a hotel after making a 4 hour drive to the hospital from her school's campus.
But the hard work paid off. She continued as a patient care tech until she passed her nursing exam in April, and soon graduated to become a novice nurse in the emergency department.
"When I got the job, it was a family celebration," Ballard said, including that her parents cried seeing their daughter go on to work at the very hospital that saved her life.
Ballard credits her parents, and her past at the hospital to her success in being a nurse today: "Talking with my parents through everything gives me insight into what every parent is dealing with. No matter how tough it is, my heart goes out to the patients as well as the families."
Next, Ballard said she hopes to transfer to the floor that treated her as a baby, and one day go on to become an oncologist to help young girls like her.